TIME TO READ: 2m 15s
It’s the sensory experience of making objects that is the “connective thread that runs through the practice.”
It’s hard to believe Franklin Mountain House is the first “official” project Hazelbaker Rush have created. After working together on a few small projects for friends, Dale Rush and Rick Joy were fortunate to be commissioned to design the Texas home.
Inspired by the arid site with it’s expansive views of the city and beyond, the duo began a three year process that will result in an incredible piece of architecture. The three-story home appears to extend out of the hillside and tower above, with a sole focus on one material: stone.
The two supporting levels of Franklin Mountain House are crafted of local basalt, in an effort to connect with the region’s geology and mining history.
“We were trying to make a home that felt of the place, and El Paso is a very masonry-driven town,” Rush explains to Dwell.
Making the conscious decision to quarry for darker stone, rather than the more common reddish-brown tones, a fortress-like base was created. Above a white lime cement box houses the the top-floor bedrooms and appears to hover effortlessly just above the ground.
Rush says it’s the stone that keeps the building grounded.
From a distance, the concrete columns and the stone base blend into the desert scrub landscape and disappear, leaving the highest box to appear to float above the hillside. Terraced stone walls continue to connect the building to its surrounding and support the native Muhly grasses. The natural tones of the soft planting marry incredibly well with the variations in the stone providing the feeling that the structure is one with the landscape.
It’s clear the architects were both personally invested in the outcome of the Franklin Mountain House, devoting many hours to see it realised. The pair even crafted many of the details themselves including stitched leather and steel drawer pulls, entry light fittings, a cast concrete bathroom sink, and outdoor gates and benches.
Hazelbaker Rush say “natural, honest, somewhat conventional materials are used in slightly unconventional ways to clearly convey a refinement of the vernacular craft.”
For us, it’s the inspiration behind the Franklin Mountain House that has been it’s greatest success. The Southwestern arresting landscape, the nearby abandoned mine, and the rocky ridges are at the core of the design and the initial influences for the use of local stone. Embracing the stone and using it in such a considered way has resulted in a successful home that’s sure to launch their architectural practice sky-high.
See more of Franklin Mountain House and other projects by Hazelbaker Rush here.
Photography: Casey Dunn